Back To The Future

Do trends ever really die? Considering the recent obsession with all things early ’90s (plastic chokers and all), apparently not. Now, hair accessories from yesteryear are officially back in – but would you actually wear them?

With the influx of yet more retro fashion influences for A/W18 and S/S19, we’ve noticed that these trends are extending to hair accessories. For so many years it’s been style or colour which we’ve used to change up our look. Whether that’s curls or braids, buns or colour bleeds, we can’t remember the last time we actually added something to our hair. At least, nothing tangible.

First it was the scrunchie, like dipping a toe into a nostalgic pool. How kitsch! Then it was Alexander Wang’s futuristic silver claw clip that had us doing a double-take. Bejewelled clips, leather headbands, tortoiseshell barrettes… you name it, we’ve seen it down the runway in recent seasons. But when the pavement is your runway, how easy are these to style out?

Three of our Layered Online editorial team – all Girl Power-fed ‘90s babies – tasked themselves with styling out one retro accessory each.

Kelsey – I’m with the band

Just when you thought it was time to throw away your coveted childhood accessories, the Alice band is back and bigger than ever after making an appearance on the runways of Prada and Dior for S/S19. Forget high fashion for a second though; growing up, a headband was the ultimate accessory to jazz up any boring school uniform. I had mine in an array of colours, and even a personalised number with my name on because nothing says childhood confidence like wearing your own name with pride, right?

First big in the ‘80s when worn by the likes of the Duchess of York, AKA Fergie, today the classic padded, velvet accessory is still doing the rounds on Insta – and as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! While the high street has various options available, I kept things classic with a black number from H&M and tried to channel my inner Blair Waldorf. At first, I was slightly sceptical that I looked more like an Anne Boleyn impersonator, but in true Gossip Girl fashion I upped my sass levels by taking a selfie and owned the look as best as I could. I opted for waved tresses, plaiting my hair the night before to keep things from looking too ‘done,’ but on second glance I think straighter hair would have suited the look better.

I wouldn’t be totally against wearing the headband again. Whilst the comfort levels were pretty low (think long day at Disney wearing Minnie ears), they say sometimes fashion is pain and I did feel way chicer than when throwing my hair up in a messy top knot. Just one thing to bear in mind: when it comes to headbands, sometimes ‘go big or go home’ isn’t the best approach to take…


Deborah – Clawing it back

Okay yes, I admit – when I saw the Alexander Wang silver claw clip from the A/W18 show I had a brief brain fritz of NEED/WANT. Until I remembered that I used to wear claw clips to school all the time, and they’re either uncomfortable, unstable or just plain uncool. Your classic tortoiseshell clip that you pin your hair up with when washing your face simply can’t be high fashion… can it?

To be fair, I could have tried a more fashionable clip – perhaps this snazzy bulldog clip style, or emulated Wang without the price tag with this design from Free People. But why change the habit of a lifetime? I went with my old faithful, tortoiseshell clip you can find in any Boots or Superdrug. However this time I was going to put some actual effort into how it was styled.

For the Alexander Wang show, hair was slicked back and secured pretty low – not quite nape of the neck, but definitely lower than I would usually place my clip. With my thin, straight hair there was no way I was going to get away with the wet-look hair prep without genuinely looking like the greasy teenager I used to be, so I focused more on the positioning and styling. I drew everything back, sans parting, and twisted my hair into the same figure eight that Guido Palau used for the Wang show (ends pointing down, crucially), before securing my clip.

It looked… okay. Because of the low placement you couldn’t see the clip (or my hair) from the front, which left me looking a little plain, frankly. And thanks to my layers, I had a bit of pineapple hair going on at the top, which definitely wasn’t part of the look. To be fair, that would have been solved had I done the slick hair prep, so I only really have myself to blame there…

I did pick up a pair of mini claw clips which were a little sleeker and more stylish – unfortunately they also weren’t big enough to hold all of my hair back. They now live on my desk, perfect for pulling my hair away from my face while I write without leaving any kinks – if anything, they seem to add a bit of volume when I remove them. An unexpected, but not unwelcome, discovery!


Anna – Scrunch’n’Go

One morning I clocked The Cool Girl on my overground train. You know the one, always wearing oversized glasses, the perfect white shirt and a well-cut trench coat combined with trainers that are always the perfect amount of scuffed. Her hair was pulled back in a centre parting, huge hoop earrings and a scrunchie placed at the nape of her neck. It was so effortless and yet so obscenely chic that I fizzed with rage for not coming up with the idea myself – the right amount of new-era Gucci nerdiness combined with a French laissez-faire attitude. I wanted it. I needed it.

And so I bought a three-pack of scrunchies for a fiver from New Look and have never looked back. Why would I? They’re soft and don’t tug or pull or make knots, and they hold styles better than elastics. Plus they’re easier to remove – pull them out, shake your head and you’ll never have that annoying dent.

But I haven’t really addressed the elephant in the room – the aesthetics of the scrunchie. Now, I know it’s a universal truth that anything that has been in fashion once will come back around again, in some incarnation or another. But I also know that many things from the ‘80s belong in the ‘80s. So, how to solve this dichotomy?

Well, I think scrunchie prejudice is circumstantial. When combined with a dodgy perm, shoulder pads and a soundtrack that’s more synth than song then yes, it’s so, so wrong. But scrunchies have grown up; every member of my ever-growing scrunchie family is a jewel-toned beauty, made of soft velvet (king of fabrics). With hair piled high into a topknot, they’re the perfect finishing touch.